Tuesday was supposed to be the day the Rangers took their positions between the lines at the new Globe Life Field. Instead, they are sheltering-in-place like the rest of D-FW.
While we wait until the first pitch is thrown at the $1.1 billion climate-controlled ballpark, let’s take a look back at the first game at the Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers opened the 1994 season on the East coast with a couple of series versus the Yankees and Orioles, respectively. The hometown team limped into their new ballpark with a 2-3 record. Their first game at “The Temple” was April 11, 1994. The Temple became a loving nickname Mike Rhyner, Godfather of the Ticket, gave the park.
It was a cloudy damp day for the 46,000 strong in Arlington to take in the new scenery and their 1994 Rangers squad. Kenny Rogers took the mound for the Rangers. The 4x All-Star southpaw went 7.2 innings giving up eight hits, four runs, and stuck out three batters. A forgettable performance but good enough to have the Rangers in position to win.
Jose Canseco walked to push a run across and load the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning. Juan Gonzalez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded, one out, and down one run. If you close your eyes you can imagine the anticipation of the 46,000 in attendance hanging on every pitch hurled during that at-bat.
It probably felt like a playoff game atmosphere. (Unfortunately, the Rangers had not yet played in the postseason in their history. They would have to wait two more seasons. But you know what I mean.)
With the count at no balls and one strike, Gonzalez offered at the second pitch of the at-bat.
Double play groundball. 6-4-3. Inning over.
You can feel the air being let out of the ballpark 26 years later.
The Rangers went out weakly in the home half of the ninth. The Brewers won the inaugural game at the Ballpark in Arlington 4-3.
When Globe Life Field sees it’s Opening Day, let’s hope it sees the same kind of late-inning dramatics with a different result.
Note: Will Clark homered in the seventh inning. He would go on to be an All-Star for the Rangers that season.
Stats and references from Baseball Reference.
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